CHART: Coal lobbying expenses collapse

CHART: Coal lobbying expenses collapse

Courtesy of SNL Energy.

While the U.S. coal industry continues to face significant new and evolving challenges on the federal level, research by SNL Energy shows the total lobbying expenses — such as those related to travel, office rent, salaries for in-house lobbyists and legal fees — keep falling.

The figure dropped to $3.1 million in the second quarter of the year, down from $3.3 million in the first three months of 2015, and roughly $1 million lower than the same period last year.

The country’s total coal production has shrunk about 15% since 2008, and coal stockpiles keep growing at mines as coal-fired power plants shut down month after month.

On top of dropping coal prices, President Barack Obama’s administration proposed last week new mining rules, including a prohibition on extracting resources within 100 feet of streams and the obligation to test and monitor the condition of streams before, during and after mining operations. All of these has putt further pressure on an industry already facing historic strains.

The commodity, which once fired half of the country’s power now accounts for just under 40%. And the Energy Department projects that percentage will slide further, to 34% in 2040, as power plants turn to natural gas and renewables like wind and solar power.